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Stressful life events and the risk of initial central nervous system demyelination


Saul, A and Ponsonby, A-L and Lucas, RM and Taylor, BV and Simpson Jr, S and Valery, P and Dwyer, T and Kilpatrick, TJ and Pender, MP and van der Mei, IAF, Stressful life events and the risk of initial central nervous system demyelination, Multiple Sclerosis Journal, 23, (7) pp. 1000-1007. ISSN 1352-4585 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 The Author(s)

DOI: doi:10.1177/1352458516667566


BACKGROUND: There is substantial evidence that stress increases multiple sclerosis disease activity, but limited evidence on its association with the onset of multiple sclerosis.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the association between stressful life events and risk of first demyelinating event (FDE).

METHODS: This was a multicentre incident case-control study. Cases (n = 282 with first diagnosis of central nervous system (CNS) demyelination, including n = 216 with 'classic FDE') were aged 18-59 years. Controls without CNS demyelination (n = 558) were matched to cases on age, sex and study region. Stressful life events were assessed using a questionnaire based on the Social Readjustment Rating Scale.

RESULTS: Those who suffered from a serious illness in the previous 12 months were more likely to have an FDE (odds ratio (OR) = 2.35 (1.36, 4.06), p = 0.002), and when we limited our reference group to those who had no stressful life events, the magnitude of effect became stronger (OR = 5.41 (1.80, 16.28)). The total stress number and stress load were not convincingly associated with the risk of an FDE.

CONCLUSION: Cases were more likely to report a serious illness in the previous 12 months, which could suggest that a non-specific illness provides an additional strain to an already predisposed immune system.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:First demyelinating event, first clinical diagnosis, multiple sclerosis, risk factors, stress, stressful life events
Research Division:Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
Research Group:Neurosciences
Research Field:Central nervous system
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Clinical health
Objective Field:Clinical health not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Saul, A (Miss Alice Saul)
UTAS Author:Taylor, BV (Professor Bruce Taylor)
UTAS Author:Simpson Jr, S (Dr Steve Simpson JR)
UTAS Author:van der Mei, IAF (Professor Ingrid van der Mei)
ID Code:111431
Year Published:2017 (online first 2016)
Web of Science® Times Cited:7
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2016-09-13
Last Modified:2017-12-05

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